No matter what size your business is, customer service is paramount. You can be selling the best product or offering the cheapest rates but if your customers believe they are treated badly they will go elsewhere.
Outside of your customer surveys and online reviews you have little way of knowing what people are telling their friends and colleagues about your organisation. Negative feedback could be costing a lot more than you realise.
A global survey conducted by Genesys found the cost of poor customer service across key economies is a whopping USD$338.5 billion per year. When a customer goes to a competitor the average value loss to a business is over USD$240 annually.
The impact of bad customer service is wide reaching, which is why this industry is not only overdue for disruption, it is on the verge of a complete revolution. However, a revolution that is coming in the form of digital technology.
The First Phase – Chatbots
Right now, many businesses are implementing chatbots as ways of shortening customer wait times and providing a new level of customer service.
There are plenty of examples of chatbots in action in bigger business, including Starbucks using the technology to take drink orders and Uber bots interacting with customers and providing updates about their approaching ride.
The chatbot experience is still finding its feet but is ever improving. Thanks to artificial intelligence and natural language processing these bots are able to handle an exponentially increasing number of enquiries and sound more and more like real people.
As bot technology takes hold, vast customer care centres will become a thing of the past. Sooner rather than later, the majority of consumer enquiries will be handled electronically.
A chatbot, however, is only the beginning of the customer care revolution. They may provide the answers, but they don’t ask the questions.
Voice Assistants are the future of customer care
You will have no doubt noticed your digital, voice activated assistant playing a daily role in your life. We started using Siri and Google Assistant to phone our friends and find the answers to basic questions.
Nowadays, we rely on them to tell us if the traffic is bad where we are headed, let us know if we will need an umbrella and post to social media on our behalf. They can search for a specific email based on one or two keywords and even remind us to take out the trash as we leave home.
Voice activation is becoming ever smarter. When combined with chatbot technology, it will soon escalate both customer care and customer convenience to a whole new level.
Here’s a practical example how you could use them for your small business:
You want to find out how much it costs to send a one kilo package from Sydney to Perth. Forget ringing Australia Post. Don’t bother trawling the website for the information. Put your voice assistant on the case.
Give them the instructions – “Contact Australia Post and find out how much it costs to send a parcel to Perth from Sydney”. Your pal in your pocket will be able to connect to a chatbot, find the answer and share it with you in a matter of seconds, leaving you free to take care of more pressing tasks.
How highly would you rate that experience compared to waiting in a queue or wasting ten minutes typing figures into an online form? If your digital assistant is able to understand jargon and respond in natural sounding language then you’ll be saving time and therefore money.
This technology isn’t highly futuristic. It is just around the corner. In fact, analysts at Gartner estimate that by the year 2018, “30% of our interactions with technology will be through ‘conversations’ with smart machines”.
Australia will soon catch up to the US and in-home devices such as Amazon Echo and Google Home become as commonplace as smartphones. When this happens customers will expect to be able to find out what they want to know by having a natural sounding conversation with thin air.
Click play (above): Why using the latest tech is important for your small business
What the voice assisted customer care revolution means for your small business
As a small or even a large business, if your CSAT scores are hovering around acceptable levels, it can be easy to think “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.
You shouldn’t necessarily scrap your current customer care strategy, rush out and purchase a chatbot system that can integrate with voice assistants right this minute.
What’s important in these fast moving times is to be aware of what is around the corner. Keep an eye out for how market leading companies are leveraging innovations in technology. Begin to think about how you can use digital automation and voice assistants to benefit your own business.
It may be a matter of ensuring Siri and her peers can find your business when given a verbal rather than a text based instruction. You might also look at how you can make the most of chatbot technology to interact with voice assistants and offer an improved customer experience.
The landscape of customer care will be vastly different in 2020 and beyond. As ever, those who provide the best services and the most up to date experiences to delight their customers will be the ones who thrive.